Magazine article Musical Opinion

Welsh National Opera

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Welsh National Opera

Article excerpt

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

lanácek's operas are so theatrical in their J structures that it is appropriate that they find some of their finest interpreters among directors who work primarily in the theatre rather than the opera house. Katie Mitchell's production of Katya Kabanova has lost none of its spine-tingling tension since it was first seen in 2001. The white sliding screens of Vicki Mortimer's design constantly focus our attention on the emotional states of the characters rather than the highly naturalistic environment. This is particularly true of the wood behind the garden where our vision is reduced to the end of two benches while the woods stretch away behind.

Within this world Katie Mitchell creates totally believable characters, where even the smallest parts are credible, and brings us a vicious world dominated by LeahMarian Jones' icy Kabanicha. Given her strength, Amanda Roocroft's Katya is doomed from the start. The only hope of escape is seen in the relationship of Patricia's Orr's Varvara and Andrew Rees' Kudryash. Their night time swim becomes a glowing metaphor for both subversion and escape.

Gareth Jones fired both those on stage and in the pit with total commitment throughout. The fully exposed pit in the Mayflower was particularly impressive on this occasion as every note could be heard and Janácek's magnificent orchestration was given full impact. It is rare, even today, to hear Janácek so well sung or so well presented. …

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